Types of Opal

and How to Select an Opal for You

Opal is an entire group of minerals that are united by their characteristics and name, but differ in color variations, structure, and composition. Even in ancient times, opals were considered to be amulets full of magical energy. There are many types of opal, that are divided into different varieties by color, place of extraction, and also by appearance. To start, it is worth specifying that there are two main varieties of opal: precious (those that have a play of color) and regular (those without a play of color).


Even in ancient times, opals were considered to be amulets full of magical energy.


Australian scientist Frank Leechman names more than 134 types of opal, and we offer a look at a few of the most common and noble varieties:

  1. Black opal is the most valuable type of opal; it is rare and, as you can guess, awfully expensive. Only 5 percent of opals mined in the world are of dark coloring. Such stones have a dark hue (dark blue, dark green, dark brown, or purple) with opalescence that is noticeably clear on a dark background. This makes the stone look incredibly bright. By the way, such stones are considered the best investment for an opal.

  2. White Opal has a white or translucent-white color with a bluish shimmer, which plays with many color refractions in natural sunlight. White opals are not as expensive as black opals, so they are more common and remarkably popular.

  3. Fire Opal is a translucent or transparent stone that has a bright yellow, orange, or red background. This color resembles fire, which is why the stone is called Fire Opal. This stone does not have a strong play of light, but when you look at it, it appears to contain a flame inside the gem.

  4. Ethiopian Fire Opal - Opals that are yellow, orange, or reddish in color, with overtones of different shades. This variety of opal is valuable for its shimmering color and is one of the most expensive types of opal.

  5. Boulder Opal is a type of opal that is remarkable and interesting because the opal is attached to the rock in which it grew. It is usually a brown stone that looks contrasting in comparison to opal.

  6. Matrix Opal is a stone in which the precious opal is in remarkably close connection with the rock. Opal fills pores or cracks throughout its host rock.

  7. Hyalite is a colorless and transparent opal that looks like glass, which is why it is also called “Müller glass”. It is usually colorless, but may have a faint hue of blue, green or yellow. What then is interesting about it? Whenever a ray of sunlight passes through the gem, it begins to sparkle.

  8. Peruvian opal is a blue-green opal found only in Peru. It is often cut to incorporate its complexities into more opaque stones. It does not exhibit a play of color.

  9. Honey opal is a yellow opal that may be transparent or translucent. The play of color can be quite pronounced in this stone.


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Opal Jewelry


Opals are mined in different places around the world, the most famous and richest deposits are in Australia, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Peru. Let's look at some of these places.

  1. Australia is #1 on the list of opal deposits, because Australia produces about 95% of the world's opals.
    Australian opals are the most expensive. The rarest and most valuable opals in the world are mined here - black opals with colorful, stunning patterns.
    But in addition to black opals, unique Harlequin opals are mined in Australia; achieving their name from the fact they resemble a Harlequin's costume, consisting of many colors that look like different colored patches of clothing.

  2. Ethiopia. This country became an active opal mining site not so long ago, about 15 years. Ethiopian opals have bright red and orange inclusions in their palette, so their opalescence is distinguished by their vibrant and warm colors. There are also crimson, blue, and yellow-green stones that amaze with their play of light.

  3. Mexico is the world leader in the mining of fire opals. They are mainly mined in Queretaro de Arteaga, in central Mexico. Fire opals are considered a national treasure in this country, and the stones decorate products all over the world.

  4. Peru. In Peru, blue and blue-green opals with a pronounced opalescence are mined. By the way, it is from Peru where the opals with a high water content are mined, so they need to be treated with extra special care.

There are other deposits found in Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, the Czech Republic, and other countries, but in terms of the quantity and quality of the extracted opals, it is hard for them to reach the level of the aforementioned places of opal mining.



There are several things to consider when choosing opal. We've put together a quick guide to help you decide which opal suits you.

1. Cost

Opal should be chosen based, first of all, on what kind of opal you like. But then, there is also the question of cost. Different varieties differ extensively in value. Even, for example, a selection of different fire opals can have quite varied costs. The price will mainly depend on the opalescence, color, transparency, and origin of its deposit.

2. Quality

There is a rule for estimating the quality of an opal: if its color play can be seen from a distance of one meter, the stone is of the highest quality.

3. Purpose

When choosing an opal as a gem, focus on the jewelry in which the stone will be set. For example, for an engagement ring, a white opal would be appropriate. Fire opal is appropriate for everyday jewelry, with the same piece being suitable to also be worn on special occasions. And, if you want to buy a unique and unusual opal for your collection, look no further than a Bolder Opal.

4. Naturalness

Keep in mind that popular stones (including opal) are often faked, by passing off an artificial stone as a natural one. Always check a stone carefully before you purchase it. If you are offered a near perfect opal for a low price, it is highly likely that it is not a genuine natural stone.

5. Properties

You are probably already aware that any stone can influence any person’s physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental state. And it would be assumed that any opal should have all these properties also, but in fact, they vary in properties as much as in appearance, with white opal featuring some properties, fire opal others, etc.

For example:

  • White opal can enhance a person's inner energy, make you more sensitive, sharpen your intuition and flair. This stone will also dispel bad dreams and relieve insomnia.
  • Fire opal, on the other hand, helps you to inspire daring projects and realize them; to restore mental equilibrium after a bereavement or other upheaval. Today, the gem is also used to support health in several areas, such as: the heart and blood vessels; psyche; eyes; kidneys and digestive system.
  • Black opal can influence on nervous system issues and also help in immune system disorders. It also brings good luck, sharpens the mind, and activates hidden talents.


Boulder Opal Pendant
Fire Opal ring
Fire Opal ring
Boulder Fire Opal ring
Boulder Opal Ring
Fire Opal Engagement ring

So that you can be sure of your choice, we have compiled a simple table to outline the key features of each variety of opal.

OpalColorThe main places ValueThe opalescence expression

Black Opal

Navy blue, navy green, navy brown, purpleAustraliaThe most expensive and valuable of opalsPronounced on a dark background
White opalWhite, translucent-whiteAustralia

Average costModerately pronounced, visible in the sun
Fire OpalYellow, orange, red MexicoAverage costNot very pronounced
Ethiopian Fire OpalYellow, orange, redEthiopiaOne of the most expensive varietiesPronounced
Boulder OpalUsually blue with brown rockAustraliaValued due to the varietyPronounced
Matrix OpalVarious different colorsAustraliaValuable because it fills pores or cracks in the host rockPronounced
HyaliteSimilar to glass, may have a shade of blue, green, or yellowMexicoAverage costPronounced in the sun
Peruvian Opal Blue greenPeruAverage costDoes not appear
Honey OpalYellowAustraliaAverage costUsually manifests itself

Opal is a stone that cannot be confused with any other. It impresses with its unique coloring and amazing play of color. We hope that everyone will be able to choose the right opal for their purposes and feel its power, energy, and beauty.

Kindly note that healing gemstone meanings are not prescriptions or healthcare information.

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